We chose this cruise on Crystal Symphony because it would take us from San Diego to Auckland in time to visit family in New Zealand for the holidays. The first leg was a film and theater theme and took us to Papeete. This segment was at capacity. The second leg was food and wine and was only half full. On the first leg, the dining room was always full and a bit noisy but the service did not lag. There are enough public spaces that, even at capacity the ship does not feel crowded. For the Christmas season, the ship was very nicely decorated with Santa’s, trees, elves and nutcrackers in abundance.
We took most of our dinners in the main dining room and found the food in quality and choice to be excellent, as was the service. We also dined once on each segment in Silk Road and Prego. These meals were superb as was the service. We had several lunches at the Trident Grill. A toasted ham and cheese sandwich for one lunch was less than satisfactory. It gave the impression of being production line product that was pulled out, unwrapped and toasted. Other than that, the Grill food was satisfactory.. Breakfasts in the Lido Grill were fine with a large selection from the buffet and we discovered the person who had access to the berries (in a drawer behind the serving line). The Grand Buffet lunch in each segment was a great showing of the prowess of the chef and culinary staff.
There was one issue we experienced with wine. When we boarded and went to our first lunch, my wife asked for a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (her favorite) and the wine steward said there was none on board and had not been on board for three years. She settled for a French SB. However, the second night at dinner we learned that there was an Ara Marlborough SB carried for the dining room and had been for sometime. We could not understand why the first wine steward was ill-informed. When we called room service to have a bottle sent to our stateroom, we were informed that Ara was only available in the DR and could not be sent via room service. We found this strange for an all inclusive cruise line, especially as the Ara was not a premium wine.
One drawback to the ship is the small size of the verandah staterooms. At about 225 sqft, our stateroom felt smaller than it should have because of the layout. The bathroom is large and contains an unnecessary double sink. This squeezed space out of the rest of the stateroom. The closets are built-ins whose access is the small space between them and the bed - the width of the bedside night table. Overall, not the best access. The desk has a large chair that always seemed to be in the way when trying to maneuver in that area and the love seat was laughingly small. Had the bottom corners of the bed’s mattresses been left as square corners getting around would have been much more difficult. We have been on other ships with staterooms of this size whose layouts were much better. This is a definite drawback to the Symphony’s comfort.
A great city to visit. Lots of varied activities. Do stay near the cruise port area as it is easy walking to many spots from there.
No excursions were offered by Crystal for this port. An interesting atoll to visit with beautiful scenery.